The letter is addressed to the minister on behalf of the voluntary associations which comprise the Gauteng Attorneys’ Association (GAA): Pretoria Attorneys’ Association (PAA), Johannesburg Attorneys’ Association (JAA), West Rand Attorneys’ Association (WRA) and the Soweto Legal Fraternity (SLF) and notes that
"We record that we had received your request on even date, by means of social media. It is unfortunate that this kind of request was not addressed to any of the voluntary associations.
3. Your letter is well drafted, but its main focus regarding solutions is on litigation. The Minister needs to consider other fields of specialisation such as conveyancing, intellectual property law, trade mark, patent and copyright law, as these fields have an enormous impact on the economy. Seeing that there is a possibility of lockdown being extended beyond 30 April 2020 and that all legal practitioners, inclusive of specialist attorneys will be affected, our members have requested us to correspond with you for purposes of the Minister considering the following proposals:"
Which are dealt with as under the following headings:
- Company Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- Property Law/Deeds Office - highlighted below
- Deceased Estate/Trust Practitioners
7. Property Law/Deeds Office
7.1 We also address the concerns of our colleagues in the property sector and appeal for measures to stimulate and mobilise the South African real estate sector.
7.2 We attach hereto various letters directed to Minister Patel and others, including those emanating from:
- The Mortgage Origination Regulatory Council of South Africa (MORCSA), dated 3 April 2020;
- The National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC), dated 1 April 2020; and
- The South African Affordable Residential Developers Association (SAARDA), undated; and
- The Black Conveyancers Association, dated 9 April 2020
7.3 We are particularly concerned about the effect of the now extended lockdown period as the lockdown has already placed many companies and individuals in severely distressing situations. We refer to not only our attorneys and conveyancer colleagues, but also to the dire financial implications which the lockdown holds for municipalities, estate agencies and their agents, bond originators and managing agents – all active and crucial stakeholders in the property sector.
7.4 In amplification of the above, we have taken the liberty of canvassing the financial significances of the lockdown with our colleagues and a mere 26 firms confirmed the following (rounded off for ease of reference):
- Rand Value of Transactions currently in the Deeds Offices amounts to R2,7 billion (two comma seven billion Rand).
- Rand Value of Transactions ready to be lodged amounts R3 billion (three billion Rand).
7.5 The significance of the said figures is obviously the impact that this will have on the collection of transfer duty and Value added tax. Added to this is the revenue for the Deeds Offices, due the collection of the Deeds Office’s levies.
7.6 It is apparent that the continued lockdown not only has a significant effect on the continued existence of the stakeholders referred to above, but the inability to sell, mortgage and transfer property has a significant impact on the economy and funds flowing into SARS and by implication National Treasury.
7.7 The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) annual report reflects that a total of 51 430 Fidelity Fund Certificates were issued in 2019. This indicates as a bare minimum the number of individuals who would benefit from the efforts to stimulate and mobilise the real estate sector during the lockdown period.
7.8 The Legal Practice Council and LSSA will be able to provide details of how many conveyancing firms are affected by the lockdown from their records. If these numbers are taken into account the above figures from a mere 26 firms will place the matter in context.